Madeleine West is the most organised mum you have never met.

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Are you ready to enter a world where dinner is prepped at 5am, there are two exact sets of all the lunchboxes and the way each child likes their sandwich cut is documented in Polaroid form?

Then welcome to the home of Madeleine West.

You will remember Madeleine from Neighbours.

Madeleline as Dee in Neighbours, with Toadie. Sob. 

And you will probably remember her from Underbelly or House Husbands, or one of the many, many Aussie dramas she has appeared in over her long career.

Madeleine in Underbelly. 

But what you might not know about Madeleine West, is that these days, she has six children under eight years old with her partner, uber-famous  Vue Du Monde chef Shannon Bennett. You might have seen him on Masterchef.

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Get a taste of her very organised family chaos, here:

"The universe has gifted us many many times. More times than I would believe comprehensible," says Madeleine, who was already a mother of four when she found out she was expecting twin girls.

"They just kept coming. For 10 years I was either breastfeeding or pregnant."

Six small children and two big careers require the kind of organisational powers that makes the average hot-mess mum's head spin. Her new book, Six Under Eight, is part parenting manual, part memoir, part diary, and for those of us on the, let's say, somewhere on the more chaotic end of the domestic goddess spectrum, it's part life-porn, part bible.

I only have two children to get out of the house every morning, but you can bet that the likelihood of us running out of fresh bread and clean uniforms on a twice-weekly basis is high.

Not chez-Madeleine.

On this episode of I Don't Know How She Does It, the actress shares with me her best tips for sorting your life out. If you listen carefully, you can hear me getting more and more overwhelmed as the tips keep coming...

Tips like:

  • Get up at 5am and prep the dinner for that night before you do anything else.
  • Stagger wake-up and bed times so you have a little snippet of one-on-one time with each child.
  • Have a separate bookshelf in your house just for school library books.
  • Make a blackboard for kids' school schedules and another for special school notices. Put them up in a cupboard you have to open several times a day.
  • Put the kids to bed in their clothes for the next day.
  • Take photos of the way your children like their lunchboxes, so that if you aren't around, they will still be just how they like them.

Which, in Madeleine's house, is like this:

One of Madeleine's lunchbox inspiration posts from her Instagram @madmadswest

So, if you're ready, listen on, and hear Madeleine tell it like it is about the day you get told you're expecting twins when you're already a mum of four, the wisdom of letting your child interview the babysitter, and how her organisational habits helped her through one of the roughest times in a parent's life - watching over an injured child in hospital.

The whole episode is here:

Or open in iTunes, here.

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